Last time out we interviewed our very own Robert Bence, in this instalment we interview best selling author and property investor Neil Mansell.
Hi Neil, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Neil Mansell and I am a professional property investor based in Chelmsford, Essex.
I am 33 years old and live with my wife in Chelmsford, Essex. I grew up down on the south coast in a small town called Swanage in Dorset and lived there until 1997 when I moved to Chelmsford to go to the University to gain a Business Studies degree. I graduated in 2001 and began working for a local authority in Essex which I did for a couple of years. My last job involved me working in East London for an Inward Investment Agency promoting the Thames Gateway area for local businesses. My last day of employment, working for someone else was 11th January 2007.
I am a property investor with my own lettings business. I employ a small team to manage the day to day activities of the business which allows me to do the fun bits like finding new deals and working on the business to make continual improvements. I enjoy using social media as well for personal and business reasons. You can find me on Twitter @neilmansell01 or Linked In. My own website is www.neilmansell.com
Outside of my business interests I love keeping fit. I regularly go running, spinning, boxing and enjoy being out on the golf course. My main passion is football although I don’t play any more and I am a Spurs supporter as well! My fitness interests have led me to do a number of physical challenges in recent years including running the London Marathon and completing the 3 Peaks Challenge.
Last year I became a published author of my book called ‘Wage Slave to Financial Freedom’. The book details my own personal journey with property investing and how I went from employment to self employment to a property business owner. The book is available on Amazon or available to download on Kindle.
How long have you been Property Investing for?
I made my first property investment in 2005. It was a ground floor maisonette in Chelmsford for £152,000. I was actually a first time buyer then as I still lived in rented accommodation myself. Most people live in the first house that they buy but I did it slightly differently! I didn’t actually live in one of my own properties until I owned 8 other houses! I plan to keep on investing in property for many years to come.
How did you get started in Property Investment?
When I was growing up my Dad had done some property investing and development so I was exposed to it at a fairly young age but never really understood or knew what he was doing. When I realised that my day to day job was never going to give me the riches I wanted I knew I had to do something different but didn’t know what to do. A good friend of mine had also been investing in property down in Bournemouth and was making a great success of it. He also set up a property mentoring/training organisation to help other investors to replicate the investments he was making. I knew that without that support and confidence from someone that had been there and done it before I would never have taken that giant step on my own to make that first property investment.
One to one mentoring is a great way not just to learn the theoretical part but to actually go out and put it into practice. I began investing into HMO’s. (Houses of Multiple Occupation). These are residential properties where you rent the rooms in the property to individual tenants instead of letting the whole property to one tenant.
Why do you invest in property?
Property is now something I know, understand an importantly have an interest in. By specialising in the types of properties I do, I am able to generate significant monthly cash flow from each property and over the medium to long term get the additional benefit of capital growth. Too many residential investors just rely or hope for capital growth to make money. I prefer to get that as a bonus rather than it being a necessity.
I am generally in control of my properties, can see them, kick them, improve them etc. I also understand the different aspects of them unlike other forms of investing of which I have little or no knowledge.
There are also many statistics which point to property investing being a good thing to do. One of my favourites by Andrew Carnegie is “90% of all millionaires become so through owning real estate”. That quite a telling statistic and as they say, “success leaves clues”. People will always need somewhere to live and in this country we are not building enough homes to satisfy the demand so this will ultimately lead to price rises over the medium to long term as well.
What’s your biggest regret as an investor?
Not starting sooner! – it is easy to look back and say that but I do wish I had had the confidence to buy property even earlier. I was 26 when I bought my first property so I still started quite early anyway but with mortgage and finance money much easier to get in those days I do wish I had been slightly more aggressive in the number of properties I had purchased.
What’s the best investment you have made?
I bought a property in 2008 for £183,000 that was valued by a surveyor at £285,000. The property is now rented out bringing in a gross monthly income of £3,000 per month.
What’s the worst investment you have ever made?
I honestly do not regret any property that I have purchased. There are properties in my portfolio that perform better than others but even the worst performing property is still making good money. I think that comes as a result of sticking to the system and being focused on each and every deal. I stuck to one location and became an expert on it so the chances of buying a poor deal were fairly low.
Why did you write the book?
I was often being asked to tell my story of how and why I got started investing in property. It was also another personal challenge to actually write a book so in 2011 I committed my time to sit down and actually write a book. I had some help from an editor but all the words in the book are my own. I also became aware of the potential opportunities that may arise simply from being an author and it is certainly a great business card to give to people when I meet them. It is a fun thing to see my book for sale on Amazon and to read the feedback and comments that people have made about it. I have also been contacted through my website by a number of the readers which is great.
What other books do you recommend?
I actually don’t read that many books specifically about property investing. Most of them are fairly generic and don’t answer all the detailed questions that you may have about them. I do however love reading other business or sportsmen autobiographies and then applying the different lessons and learnings from each of those in my business and personal life. I have just finished reading Simon Jordan’s book. He is the former Chairman of Crystal Palace Football Club. He talks openly about his business that he developed and then ultimately how he lost a lot of money when the football club went into administration.
What’s advice would you give to a new investor?
Having your own investment funds of having access to funds is vitally important. Too many people overestimate what they can do with a small amount of money. Be clear about what you are trying to achieve. Set some goals and targets and do your research before you undertake any form of investment.
There are some great investment opportunities in the property market at the moment and access to finance is key to taking advantage of those. Even with just one investment property, treat it as a business in its own right and make sure you focus on the investment paying you every month rather than you having to pay money into it!
Don’t just follow and do what other investors do. What works for someone else may be completely different to what works best for you. Make sure you find a strategy or system or type of investment that fits in with your normal day to day life as well.
Finally if you were a property what type of property would you be?
I’ve never been asked that question before but what a great question! I think I would be a converted barn. I like old traditions and values but am very modern and up to date. I have a solid, sound structure to who I am and what I do but have certainly changed and improved massively over the years of being involved in property.